One client I worked with had very low levels of assertiveness and because of this was often treated very badly by friends, family and work colleagues. This led to her becoming really rather depressed, which meant that she tended to avoid interactions with other people whenever possible, lowering further still her confidence and her ability to deal with social situations. She was becoming increasingly withdrawn. Whilst the counselling helped her to understand how she was contributing towards her own distress by having so low an opinion of herself, the antidepressants helped her to feel well enough to start to re-engage with people and to put into practice some of the ideas and life skills she was learning in therapy. By the time the medication was slowly stopped after her depression had lifted, she had firmly established new patterns of behaviour and relationships. She was easily able to continue this new and more useful way of being, therefore removing the need for further medication.
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The Disadvantages of Antidepressants
Many people I know would say that when you are profoundly depressed, there are no disadvantages to taking something that makes you feel better. Certainly I know many clients whose lives have been transformed by taking the right antidepressant, prescribed by their doctor or psychiatrist. Having said that, no medication is without its problems. With antidepressants, the main problems are firstly, finding the right antidepressant and secondly, side-effects.
Antidepressants seem to help about half of the people who take them and different antidepressants work better with some people than others. The process of matching the right medication to the person is far from a precise science and one psychiatrist I know will admit that it often comes down to luck and guesswork.
Having said that, the choice of antidepressant is usually informed by the exact nature of the symptoms experienced.